49 Percent of the Supreme Court’s Links are Defunct
If anybody is supposed to have their ship in order, you’d expect the Supreme Court to. Yet though they’ve increasingly used the internet to hyperlink explanations to their judgments — previous to this, they gave citations mostly from published books and such– of the 555 citations they’ve made since 1996, only 49 percent of them even work.
Having dead links is a sign of amateur web savvy: anybody who wants a respectable page has to avoid such error messages as one gets when clinking a link on a Supreme Court opinion from 2011 in which Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. cites an opinion about violent video games, that leads to a link reading:
“Aren’t you glad you didn’t cite to this Web page? If you had, like Justice Alito did, the original content would have long since disappeared and someone else might have come along and purchased the domain in order to make a comment about the transience of linked information in the Internet age.”
Two librarians at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago wrote in an article, “Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation,” published in the Yale Journal of Law and Technology, as cited by the Associated Press, “It is disturbing that even at the Supreme Court, where creating and citing precedent is the utmost importance, citations often fail to point the researcher to the authority on which the court based its decisions.”
Such links as Justice Antonin Scalia’s, entitled “The scariest chase I ever saw since ‘The French Connection,’” which is supposed to show a police car chase — doesn’t.
One possible solution to this problem has been presented by Professor Zittrain. It is called Perma.cc, and is a platform built for law libraries. It captures a website at an exact time and freezes it in a permanent new link. This would help legal scholarship — indeed, it could help a lot of things — and perhaps the Supreme Court will use it too?
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